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Local colleges

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sioux Falls Arena, Sioux Falls, S.D.
Radio: 1380 AM
Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Senior forward Luis Jacobo leads IPFW in scoring (14.9 points per game) and 3-point shooting (40 percent) this season.

Top scorer Jacobo has unconventional approach to game

– The shooter’s just a piece of it all. Get that, and you get everything.

You get why IPFW men’s basketball coach Tony Jasick will sit in his office and look at the shooter, this 6-foot-5 senior forward out of Florida who leads the Mastodons in scoring (14.9 point per game) and 3-point shooting (65 of 160, 40 percent) and is tied for third in rebounding (4.4 per game) and say only that he’s “involved” in what the Mastodons do.

You get why assistant coach John Coffman, who watched the forward come up in high school and AAU while Coffman was an assistant at Stetson University in Deland, Fla., will talk about the forward but also about paint touches and post touches and how the key to the Mastodons’ 22-9 record has been the job Jasick has done getting everyone to buy into sharing the basketball and the glory.

You get why the forward himself, Luis Jacobo, will talk about how the Indiana winters are no big deal and how he’s worked to develop his shot. But he saves his most expansive comments for the moment a visitor brings up teammate Steve Forbes.

“There’s not enough words to describe what Steve does for this team,” Jacobo said. “He’s the centerpiece of our team. Without him, I don’t know if we’d have these 20 wins. … You could say he’s the heart of the team on and off the court.”

And Jacobo himself?

“I don’t feel like I’m a selfish person,” the first-team All-Summit League selection says, not exactly stopping any presses. “If someone else is hot and hitting shots I’m not going to say anything if we let them take the last shot. I’ve never really had that kind of a problem.”

It makes him the perfect leading scorer for a team that doesn’t really do leading scorers

“I don’t think necessarily that we have a guy that is, quote-unquote, a go-to guy in critical situations,” Jasick says. “In the course of the year you’ve seen a number of guys hit some big shots and do some big things.”

And it fits perfectly a player who, like the anti-leading-scorer bit, has not been conventional in other ways as well.

There’s the man who first put a basketball in his hands, for instance.

The road to IPFW begins on a wrestling mat.

It begins with a young man who came out of New York state as an All-American high school wrestler, and who was captain of his football team, and who played a little professionally overseas while he was in the Navy. It begins with the same man coming home and getting married and moving the family to Florida, and discovering basketball when he was 27 years old.

That man is Luis Jacobo’s father, Luis Jacobo Sr.

And that kid over there, practicing drills at the side of the court while his dad runs it with the guys?

That’s Luis Jacobo.

The wrestler/football player fell for the hoops game hard, and when Luis got old enough, he passed along the passion to his son. So much so, that when Luis’ high school football coach dangled the opportunity to play running back in front of him, the wrestler/football player had some startling advice for his son.

“He kind of pushed me away from that,” Luis says. “He didn’t want me to get hurt or anything like that. He wanted me to focus on basketball.”

He’s still focusing on basketball and still defying assumption.

When Coffman came to him about coming to IPFW after Jacobo’s two years in junior college, for instance, there was no indecision about going to a school 1,000 miles away in the middle of Windchill Central.

“Most people would think the weather would make me change my mind,” Jacobo says. “It didn’t. It was a basketball type of environment, and I love that. So it didn’t even take me 24 hours before I decided to come here.”

And he’s not the player Jasick and his staff thought they were getting, either. A slasher in high school, he’s spent hours upon hours in the gym working on his shot. Now, Coffman points out, “he would be a shooter on most scouting reports.”

But, again, a shooter with a conscience.

“When we had that long stretch of home games, there were times I thought I was taking bad shots, which was messing up our offense, messing up our groove,” Jacobo says. “Coaches kind of had a talk with me, and I felt like after that talk, I feel like I’ve kind of opened my eyes more. Now I’m trying to look for that one more pass.”

So there it is again: The anti-leading scorer. One more guy who’s bought in.

“He’s a really good player,” Jasick says. “He can score the ball. He’s been a winner. And when I went and saw Luis about this time in his sophomore year, I was really impressed with the way he played the game. I was just really impressed with the overall basketball player we were going to get.”